[I created this blog post almost a year ago. I think it’s good to re-read and to be reminded. It is posted below.]
There is always room for blame. There is always a reason, an excuse, a point-of-view; why things are the way they are. Why people are they way they are. Why the world is the way it is. It’s easy to say “That’s not right. Someone or something is wrong.” But who’s job is it to correct it? To make it right. To set it straight?
The answer is never outside of ourselves. Life is always a mirror. When we see something we consider wrong; something a mess or amiss, there is always a reflection of something we personally need to clean-up or set straight. It could be a matter of ‘letting go’, or it could be a matter of taking personal responsibility for correcting in ourselves what we dislike most about others. It’s easy to say “I’m not like that” or “I didn’t do that.” But an individual life or personality is vast, there is always something within ourselves that we don’t want to see or acknowledge. Something we are doing or being that isn’t in alignment with our highest values. There is also deep-rooted misery within ourselves that we desperately need to discharge, release or defuse (if only for a moment), through pointing the finger or through seeing life as lopsided. It takes the responsibility off of us, & sets it somewhere else. This misery, or this thing we can’t put our finger on, is the very thing that gets triggered easily by others, or by life itself.
If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.
– Ajahn Chah
When I see a ‘mature’ person. It touches me deeply. I feel the truth & the wisdom in who they are being. When I say mature, I am using the word as this quote does: Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself (quote by John Macnaughton). But when I read that quote, I don’t think that it means to put yourself or your personal needs aside & to place everyone before you — but to see that there is no separation between you & anything in the world. Turning a blind eye, tuning out, being defensive, judging harshly, or being cruel — it only means that you are ultimately treating or viewing yourself that way. In the end, everything comes back to you. Each life happens through the eyes of the one living it. Therefore, we can either fully open up to life; trust it, get intimate with it — or we can shut down, close ourselves off & wonder why life is so difficult.
When there is a strong need to be right about ideas we have, or about the way life should be, or about the way people ought to behave, we set ourselves up for suffering. We actually begin to confuse ourselves, because we start to live life from the mind instead of the heart. We let fear & ego take a position of power, instead of simply allowing life to flow, & allow love to be the driving force in all that we do.
I often think of the quote: Do you prefer that you be right or happy? (quote from A Course in Miracles T-29.VII.1:9). I think of it when I see someone suffering over an idea they have about the way things should be, or when I find myself hanging on desperately to something as ephemeral as a thought. A thought that I know isn’t getting me what I ultimately want. And what can we all say we ultimately want? Everyone wants to be happy. Yet many of us are on a mind-game carousel that takes us nowhere, or better yet, to a place of pointless suffering & energy wasted. Many of us would like to get off this ride. If only we could see that we ourselves, no one else, has the power to stop it.
For me, self-inquiry helps to stop the mind-game carousel. To simply stop; to look nowhere for answers but within. To be honest with myself. To ask myself questions. To get to know myself on a deeper level. It doesn’t matter what others are doing or saying. But to witness with compassion what I am doing & saying, what I am thinking & feeling, & why. After that, my mind slows down. I become more spacious & patient, more open & tolerant — more understanding. I begin to see everyone as the same, & life itself as perfect, unfolding as it should. My breathing goes from shallow to full. My body releases its tension. My attitude lightens up. My face brightens up. My heart opens up. And my mind follows my heart, it too opens up. There is no longer a need to be right, not even a desire. To be happy is more than enough.